JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson turned in a fourth-place finish at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, registering his fifth top-10 of the 2021 season. However, NASCAR officials later revealed that they disqualified Gragson after his No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro failed post-race inspection. He lost out on his stage points, as well as his $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.
NASCAR said in a press release that Gragson faced disqualification under Rule 20.14.c: “All suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension and/or drivetrain component beyond normal rotation or suspension and/or drivetrain travel.”
NASCAR Xfinity Series general manager Wayne Auton later met with media members to provide more explanation about Gragson’s disqualification. “So, post-race, we tear down the winner and second-place car every weekend,” Auton explained. “Because this was a Dash 4 Cash race, we also tear the winner of the Dash 4 Cash down. This is the third race of the 2021 Dash 4 Cash season, and the [No.] 9 car was in violation of 20.14.c.”
The Xfinity Series rulebook has additional rules related to suspension issues
Auton continued to provide further information about the post-race inspection and the disqualification. He explained that the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro was in violation of the primary suspension rule and that the Xfinity Series rulebook outlines specific punishments for this very violation.
“In the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series rulebook, under L1, L2,” Auton added. “‘All L1 and L2 penalties found in race and during post-race inspection shall result in a race disqualification’. And under L1 – parts and systems configurations, ‘examples of rear suspension parts mounted and assembled in a manner to allow movement that should not otherwise be available.’ That’s what we DQ’d the [No.] 9 car for.”
According to Jim Utter of Motorsport.com, the No. 9 JR Motorsports team can appeal the penalty and the disqualification. Though he is unlikely to win the appeal and get the points and bonus money back. JRM has not yet revealed whether the team will opt to appeal.
NASCAR awarded the Dash 4 Cash money to another driver
A side effect of Gragson’s disqualification is that he lost his $100,000 bonus for finishing ahead of the other Dash 4 Cash drivers. NASCAR took the money and awarded it to AJ Allmendinger, who initially finished 13th but moved to 12th after the DQ.
In addition to losing his money, Gragson is no longer able to compete for the final Dash 4 Cash bonus. He was originally part of a group that featured teammates Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry, as well as Brandon Jones. Now Allmendinger will replace Gragson in the lineup for May 15’s trip to Dover International Speedway.
Losing the money will be a bitter pill to swallow for Gragson and the No. 9 team, but it will pale in comparison to the lost points. The JRM driver currently sits in 11th place in the Xfinity Series standings with 218 points. He only has two stage wins and two playoff points through nine races. He needed the points from Saturday’s race to remain in contention for a playoff spot. For comparison, Austin Cindric leads the field with 388 points, which he earned by winning two races and five total stages.
Gragson will have an opportunity to rebound from the disqualification on May 15 when the Xfinity Series season continues. The drivers will head to Dover for a 200-lap race, which takes place at 1:30 p.m. ET. Fox Sports 1 will provide coverage with Adam Alexander serving as the play-by-play man.